Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

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National award for John and Darcy

Service dog rescue team, John Ball and Darcy, are set to receive a national award in recognition of their work in the UK and as part of the national response to major incidents abroad.

They will receive the honour at the National Service Dog Bravery and Achievement Awards at Ingatestone Hall on Saturday, April 16.

The awards recognise bravery, outstanding achievement and dedication to duty made by uniformed working dog teams and individuals across the UK from the Armed Forces, Police, Customs, Prison and Fire Service.

There have been only been forty recipients since the awards were founded in 1990. Darcy and John have won the award for Bravery and Outstanding Achievement.

In their 10 years of operational duties together they have taken part in international rescue missions following earthquakes in Sumatra in 2009 and the devastating earthquakes which hit Nepal last year as well as many incidents in Essex.

The Lord Lieutenant of Essex, Lord Petre, will hand over the award to John, who is technician at the Urban Search and Rescue base, in Lexden. Peter Purves will be reading introductions and citations at the ceremony.

John took Darcy home as a 10 week old puppy in April 2005 and their training began straight away. The hard work paid off and they were graded for both UK and International Search and Rescue operations just over a year later in June 2006 at only 17 months old. They were the first dog team from the UK to pass the International Rescue dog Organisation (IRO) Mission Readiness Test (MRT) in 2008.

The following year John became the first and only UK handler to pass the IRO dog team leader MRT. He is currently the Deputy Spokesperson for Deployment for the IRO and an International Assessor for Search Operations on behalf of the United Nations. John is also a trainer for overseas USAR Fire Service dog teams.

Now aged 11, she is just as enthusiastic to work as when she first graded and they are one of the best qualified and most highly respected rescue dog teams in the country.

John said: “I’m extremely proud of Darcy and all of our achievements; I just can’t believe how quickly 11 years has gone. It’s great that we have been recognised by the National Service Dog Bravery and Achievement Awards in this way.

“Darcy is a natural and has always been tuned in for search and rescue. She is as keen as ever to work, it is great to work with her                               

“Without Darcy, many rescue teams would have used valuable time and resources at disaster zones. Her work has brought closure to many families who lost loved ones in both catastrophes.”

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